The first wave of a “complex” two-part storm left more than six inches of snow on the ground in many parts of Maine on Monday, exceeding initial forecasts predicting two to five inches of accumulation in Portland and other areas.

As of Monday night, 5.8 inches of snow had fallen at the Portland International Jetport, but forecasters said that was likely to increase overnight as snow continues to fall into Tuesday morning.

“The storm will gradually end by early to mid-afternoon in Portland, but will continue snowing over southern Maine and interior portions of the state,” said Michael Clair, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.

By Tuesday morning, Portland and coastal communities was expected to see a mix of rain and snow. Clair said the morning commute, at least in Portland, would likely be a messy one.

While forecasters were predicting a two-part storm, Clair acknowledged that there wasn’t much of a break in between on Monday. In Freeport, the snow tapered off by late morning, but started up again around noon and continued throughout the afternoon and evening.

As of Monday evening, Gorham and South Portland each reported more than 7 inches of snow, Cumberland received 6.1 inches, Falmouth 5.4 inches, and Brunswick got 5 inches. The snowfall totals were much higher in York County, where Acton reported 10.3 inches, Kennebunk 8 inches, Saco 7.4 inches, Waterboro 7 inches, and Hollis 6.5 inches.

The snow caused slippery travel conditions across the southern part of the state and forced the closure of some public buildings.

Police reported several traffic accidents and slide offs during the day, including a pair of tractor-trailer trucks that skidded and jackknifed across the northbound lanes of the Maine Turnpike in Kennebunk and at the Saco-Scarborough town line.

The crashes at mile markers 25 and 39 were blocking some or all of the three northbound lanes, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety. Drivers were being diverted off the turnpike at Exit 19 in Wells. Wreckers were on scene at 2:30 p.m. to remove the trucks.

McCausland said white-out conditions at the southern end of the turnpike also caused several other car crashes. No injuries were reported, but troopers were reminding drivers to reduce their speed, he said. The Maine Turnpike Authority maintained a reduced speed limit of 45 mph for most of the day.

As travel conditions deteriorated, Gov. Janet Mills announced all state offices would close at 3 p.m.

“We will continue to monitor the weather as it develops throughout the evening and consider a delayed opening for tomorrow, if necessary,” Mills said in a statement. “In the meantime, to all those commuting or traveling, I urge you to please drive slowly and to leave ample room for our road crews and first responders who are working hard to keep us safe.”

Maine’s legislative offices will be closed Tuesday as well due to the continuing winter storm, the state announced Monday evening.

Most public school districts are still on winter break and will be unaffected by Tuesday’s weather.

The weather system was expected to linger in Maine, dropping snow, sleet and freezing rain over most of the state by the time it ends on New Year’s Eve.

Up to 9 inches of snow is expected in Portland by the time the wintry mix stops late Tuesday, but parts of York County could see well over a foot of snow.

Traffic is diverted into the breakdown lane around a jack-knifed tractor trailer that blocked the three northbound travel lanes of the Maine Turnpike in Kennebunk on Monday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Gray described the winter storm as “complex,” but were confident that nearly all the state would see some form of precipitation by the time it is over.

Part one of the storm began late Sunday night, with York County feeling the brunt of its effects.

Part two had been forecast to arrive Monday night and dump heavy amounts of snow in areas north of the foothills, with towns like Fryeburg getting as much as 8 to 12 inches.

“The big winner here is going to be northwestern York County and into Oxford County, where there could be upwards of 12 to 15 inches total,” Schroeter said.

The National Weather Service said the forecast for Wednesday – New Year’s Day – in Portland is calling for mostly sunny skies with temperatures reaching into the upper 30s.

 


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